Chargers vs. Titans – A Preview

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a good look at our upcoming home opener against a team that has been the bane of the Titan's existence, the San Diego Chargers.

Titans / Texans Recap

We've pored over the Titan's last match-up and can garner some quick takeaways heading into our home opener against the San Diego Chargers:

1) The defense is for real. If they keep playing as they have, we will be able to hang around with anyone in this league week in, week out.
2) Jake Locker is a weapon when put in a wide open hurry up. Loggains needs to dial this up more often to keep defenses on their toes and put points on the board.
3) The offensive line has some work to do. Hopefully they can get it together sooner rather than later.

Chargers / Eagles Recap

The Chargers were part on another nail-biter last weekend against the Eagles. There are some notable takeaways from this game too:

1) Phillip Rivers was passing all over the place. Verner and co will have their hands full again this week, albeit against a lesser corps of wideouts.
2) Just as they torched Philly's D, they allowed a ton of yards and points both on the ground and through the air. This should be the offense's best chance so far this season to show their stuff.
3) The Chargers showed they can win a close game, which can't be discounted considering their past performances in this area.

Defense

The Titans will be preparing for not only a dreaded opponent this week, but also a QB who's no doubt hot right now. Rivers put up 419 yards, 3 TDs, and no INTs against the Eagles on his way to a 92.6 passer rating, 72.7% completion percentage, and a PFF rating of +5.8. While he has a less talented group of receivers than Houston (by miles), Rivers will force the Titan's secondary to step up to the plate to stall the passing attack, and by my prediction, there will be a lot of that when the Chargers take the field on offense Sunday.

The Titans defense should be up to the challenge. Alterraun Verner posted a +3.5 per PFF last week, and retained his position as the No.1 rated Cornerback in the NFL. Of 11 passes sent his way, only 5 were completed, and from that he recorded two pass breakups and a pick-six. When passing his way, Schuab's QB rating was an arthritic 36.2. Verner was just a cog in a secondary that flashed excellent safety play through two weeks (who would have guessed, right?) and has shown a penchant for forcing QB's to look to the underneath routes where the LB's have been feasting and getting the Titan's D off the field. On top of that, the Titans line will have to get consistent pressure on Rivers as well as handle Ryan Matthews. I am confident they get the job done here.

Offense

On the Titan's offensive line, beyond Turner's obvious struggles, Andy Levitre posted a -3.1 and Chance Warmack a -2.6 per Pro Football Focus. This is a telling stat from Houston; of all Jake Locker's passes, 15 were classified as disrupted. That number has to go down if the team expects Locker to be poised in the pocket and deliver the ball accurately down the field. It also tells me that they need to move Locker around more. Some option and pistol looks would slow the defense, but that might be too much to ask at present considering the conservative approach of the Titans coaches through 2 weeks.

The line could get a break this week considering the quality they have faced in so far this year. Freeney still has some gas in the tank, but beyond him the Chargers pass-rushing cupboard is pretty bare. Chargers RE Corey Luiget was completely neutralized against the Eagles, both in run and pass defense, and their team is counting on him playing better football going forward. This is without a doubt the Titans best chance to put on a strong showing on offense so far this season.

The Titans run game could use a shot in the arm too. While the team has showed they want to run in high volume, the interior blocking has to improve if they want to continue to pound the rock late in the game. As mentioned by more than a couple writers this week, the Titans offense looked much more effective when the passing game was opened up. This could be a situation where the pass sets up the run, and I think if they employed that up-tempo style of play more often, you would see CJ pick up yards in chunks. While we're on topic, how about Collin Mooney? Following a league leading FB rating in week one, he posted an impressive +3.0 against Houston. He's certainly doing his part and the coaches have to be thrilled with his play so far, not least considering the circumstances that saw him injected into the lineup.

Kendall Wright and Nate Washington against Chargers CB Shareece Wright will be a match-up to watch. S. Wright had a torrid day last week against the high-flying Eagles offense, allowing 6 catches for 146 yards and a touch, mostly coming against DeSean Jackson. There were a couple of near misses by Eagles wideouts on deep plays against him as well, which could have made matters even worse. Look for Loggains to exploit the match-up here, and send some deep passes his way. Who we see take the majority of snaps at the No.1 WR spot this week remains to be seen, but I'm hoping (praying) for a healthy dose of Preston and Williams. Give them a shot, and I say they get the job done.

Summary

I am confident that this young team steps up their game this week following a brutal OT loss to a division rival. A victory here would give them some much needed momentum to rack up some wins over this 3 week home stand and climb the ladder in the division. We'll see what happens come Sunday, but I'll take the hometown Titans in this one.

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